CHAMPCAR/CART: Formula One, CART and Bridgestone

As Bridgestone continues its preparations for the Italian Grand Prix this weekend, more Bridgestone tyres have reached the UK - for the only round of the CART championship to be held in Europe this year. Today and tomorrow, CART takes to the track ...

CHAMPCAR/CART: Formula One, CART and Bridgestone

As Bridgestone continues its preparations for the Italian Grand Prix this weekend, more Bridgestone tyres have reached the UK - for the only round of the CART championship to be held in Europe this year.

Today and tomorrow, CART takes to the track at Rockingham in Northamptonshire, England, while in Italy the Formula 1 grand prix takes place on Sunday.

As well as being one of the two manufacturers supplying tyres to Formula 1, Bridgestone is also sole supplier to CART this year following a change from Firestone which ran in the series from 1995. Both Formula 1 and CART use the Potenza brand, one of the similarities between the two series. But there are also some significant differences in the tyres on track at Monza and Rockingham.

To begin with, all the tyres used in Formula 1 are designed and made in Japan. For CART, the tyres are designed and manufactured at the Bridgestone/Firestone technical centre in Akron, Ohio, USA.

Head of tyre development for both series, Hirohide Hamashima, said: "Being involved in two of the most important motor racing series in the world is very important for Bridgestone. Both provide us not only with the opportunity to show off our technology to a worldwide audience but they are critical in assisting the development of our technology and the expertise of our engineers."

The inaugural CART race to be held at Montreal's Gilles Villeneuve circuit on August 25 provided the first opportunity for a direct comparison between Formula 1 and CART tyres. The 13th round of the 19-round CART FedEx Championship was held at the same track used by Formula 1 for the Canadian Grand Prix. Cristiano da Matta's pole position time of 1:18.959 was 6.5 seconds slower than the fastest Bridgestone Formula 1 qualifyer, Michael Schumacher, who posted a lap time of 1:13.018 back in June.

Formula 1 cars have a number of advantages over CART racers - they are 100kg lighter, have bigger engines, braking advantages and different aerodynamics and suspension.

Even having slick tyres does not necessarily give CART an advantage. Mr Hamashima explained: "In Formula 1 we have had a tyre competitor for the last two seasons and we are constantly striving to make faster tyres to stay ahead of our rival and to help our teams to be more competitive.

"In CART, it is rather like the situation we had in Formula 1 in 1999 and 2000. As sole supplier you have no one to beat. Nevertheless, our racing tyre department in the US works very hard to produce competitive tyres suited to the particular demands of the CART tracks. And it has been noted that the best CART qualifying time at Montreal was within half a second of the Formula 1 pole time in 2000 when Bridgestone was the only supplier."

For Formula 1, this weekend's Italian Grand Prix is the 15th round of the 17-race season; Rockingham also marks the 15th race for CART since its season began in March, but after this Saturday four rounds still remain until the season winds up on November 17. CART drivers have more opportunity for points than Formula 1 drivers with the top 12 placed drivers making the score sheet, as opposed to just the top six in Formula 1. In CART, there is also one point each for the pole position driver, the fastest driver on Friday and the driver who leads the most laps.

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